In honor of Billy Graham, a hero of mine, I’m digitizing some of his sermons from long out-of-print records and making them available as MP3s. This sermon is found on an LP called Two Sermons by Billy Graham from 1963 (Word Records W-3243-LP).
In this masterpiece of a sermon, Graham says that the cross means three important things: forgiveness of sin through Christ’s atoning death; God’s great love for humanity; and the exclusivity of salvation through the cross of Christ. In this section on God’s love, Graham says the following:
The cross expresses the great love of God for man. I read a magazine story some time ago about the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and it said it’s the greatest love story ever told. I disagree. The greatest love story ever told is the story of God’s love for man. Man was created in the image of God. He is the object of God’s everlasting and eternal love. And no matter how dirty and how wicked a man gets, no matter how deep in sin he goes, he cannot go beyond the love of God. He cannot climb higher than the love of God. He cannot go east or west as far as the love of God. God will love you to the grave. He’ll love you to the gates of hell. And God will do everything in his power to save you, if you’ll let him. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…
God loves you tonight with an everlasting love. And when he went to the cross, he loved you so much that he stayed there. And because he was God, he had the capacity to call you by name. He said, “There’s Jim.” He’s yet unborn, but you see everything with God is in the eternal present. There’s no past with God. There’s no future with God. It’s all in the present. To you and me, limited by time and space, there’s past present and future. But with God there’s no past and no future—it’s all present. And God, the Lord Jesus Christ, called you by name and said, “I see Billy Graham.” “I see Cliff Barrows.” “I see the moment they were born. I see their whole life, and God said—Jesus said—”I love them. I’m going to stay here for him.” And he died there just as though you were the only person in all the world.
And tonight, when you go out in sin, and you tell a lie, and you commit immorality, and you cheat and you lie and you get angry, he sees you. But in spite of that, he says, “I love you. I love you.” And God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Notice a couple of theological nuances here. Graham always maintains that nice Arminian balance between God’s initiative and humanity’s responsibility. Echoing Romans 8:38-39, he describes how God’s love is persistent and nearly inescapable. Yet there is a limit; there is a boundary: God will love you to the grave and to the gates of hell, but not necessarily beyond. Therefore, we must respond to God’s loving offer of salvation now. “God will do anything in his power to save you,” Graham says, before adding this critical qualifier: “if you’ll let him.” In other words, God will do anything to save us, short of overriding our free will.
Later in the sermon he defines repentance as a willingness to repent from our sin. “Now notice I said ‘willing.’ You can’t give up your sins by yourself. But if you’re willing, God will help you. All you need to do is be willing.” Again, Graham always emphasizes our need to respond to the grace that God freely offers us.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button above or right-click here to download as a separate mp3 file.
Click here for Part 1.
Click here for Part 2.
Click here for Part 3.
Click here for Part 4.
Click here for Part 5.
Click here for Part 6.